Tag Archives: young children

Family Time: Puzzles to Piece Together!

29 Sep

shutterstock_195729920Looking for an activity you can do as a family? Beat the bad weather and spend quality time indoors with your little one by piecing together a puzzle! Floor puzzles are perfect for promoting hand-eye coordination, fine motor development, and problem-solving skills. Time away from technology can also be the perfect way for your family to catch up in between busy schedules! Here are 10 of our favorite puzzles for the family:


1.     Animals Themed Peg Puzzle Set (Set of 2)

Build dexterity in your toddler as they learn about friendly and familiar animals! Pictures under each piece provide children with visual cues of where to place each piece, not to mention the artwork is adorable!


2.     Famous Artist Floor Jigsaw Puzzles 

Does your family love classic art? Reconstruct your favorites with the Famous Artist Floor Jigsaw Puzzles. Along with including works of Cassatt, Monet, and Van Gogh, the set includes an insert explaining the history of the artwork and a biography of the artist.


3.     Green Start Topsy Turvy Pattern Play Puzzle 

Teach patterns with these colorful puzzles! Made with wood, the colorful square-shaped pieces provide for tons of pattern combinations. Get as creative as you want piecing together a new pattern each time!


4.     Prehistoric Sunset 24 Piece Puzzle 

This dramatic dinosaur puzzle provides for an educational puzzling session as you appeal to your child’s inner dino lover. With bright colors and scenery, this puzzle is great for starting science conversations!


5.     Beginning Skills Floor Puzzle 

Work on your child’s beginner skills with this fun, colorful puzzle set! Teach the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes as children piece together the different puzzles.

31422a6.     Animal Block Puzzles (Set of 2) 

Mix things up with block puzzles! These nine-piece puzzles allow children to build both vertically and horizontally as they re-create familiar animals. Each puzzles features six puzzles to complete.


7.     Alphabet and Numbers Puzzle Pairs 

Teach the alphabet and numbers at the same time as children piece together pictures to the alphabet and dots to numbers 1-10! Make the puzzle more challenging by following included instructions for challenging skill-building games.


8.     OBLO™ Spheres 3-D Puzzle 

Take puzzling to the next level with these award-winning 3-D spheres! To graduate from one layer to the next, children must find the correct position for each piece to build a sphere within a sphere! Is your little puzzler up to the challenge?


9.     Dinosaur A to Z Puzzle 

The 26-piece friendly Stegosaurus teaches letters with fun puzzle play! Once built, the stegosaurus can stand on its own for hours of fun and learning for your preschooler.


10. Shark Jigsaw 100 Piece Puzzle 

Do sharks fascinate your child? Dive into the deep seas by reconstructing this colorful, ocean scene! Talk about underwater ecosystems and food chains for an impromptu science lesson.

Didn’t find the puzzle you wanted? Browse through an even greater selection of puzzles for varying age groups here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/puzzles

Fresh Fall Activities!

22 Sep


Fall starts today! Celebrate the change in seasons with these fun activities you can do with your children. (Don’t forget the usual fall favorites of pumpkin spice, leaf piles, and fashionable fall boots and scarves!)


1. Study Science by Tracking Seasonal Trees

In the spring and summer, trees have green leaves. When fall arrives, however, many leaves change color. Instead of green, you can see red, purple, orange, and yellow.

What You’ll Need:

  • Camera
  • Clear contact paper
  • Trees

What to Do:

  1. Select an area outside that has several trees, including both deciduous (trees with leaves that fall off in the winter) and coniferous (evergreen) trees, if possible.
  2. Visit the trees in early autumn. Pick a tree to “adopt” and observe. Encourage your child to explore everything they can about the tree, such as feeling the bark; examining the leaves or needles; looking for seeds, pinecones, nuts, and so on.
  3. Take a picture of your child next to their tree.
  4. As the deciduous trees begin to show signs of change, take another photo of your child next to their tree. How does the tree look different? Take photos as the trees with leaves change color and then lose their leaves. Have the evergreen trees changed?
  5. Continue checking on your tree throughout the year. Take photos in the spring when the trees are budding and when they have all of their leaves in summer.
  6. Cover the photos with clear contact paper.
  7. Spread the photos on a table. What changes do you see over time?

Books to Enjoy:

Activity adapted from The Budding Scientist.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.02.21 PM

 2. Bake “Hello, Pumpkin!” Muffins

What better way to give your child a healthy dose of beta-carotene than with a delicious and nutritious pumpkin muffin? The sweet taste will keep him or her coming back for more, and the whole-wheat flour and pureed pumpkin will pack a powerful nutritional punch!


  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • raisins

Note: Makes 1-2 dozen muffins, depending on size.

What to Do:

  1. Grease a muffin tin, or place muffin liners inside the muffin cups.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (adult only.)
  3. Invite your child to mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl.
  5. Show your child how to make a well in the dry ingredients. Then help him or her pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix gently until blended. If you want to add chocolate chips to the muffin mix, do so now.
  7. Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full. Give your child raisins to make faces on top of every muffin. Say, “Hello, Pumpkin!’ each time he or she creates a face, and be prepared for giggles!
  8. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Activity adapted from The Budding Chef.


3. Create a Fall Leaves Art Suncatcher!

Finally, fall is a season full of beautiful colors that can sometimes come along with chilly weather. Celebrate the season from indoors with a colorful art project best appreciated by bright windows! The Fall Leaves Resist Art Suncatcher is a great tactile project for little hands. Find instructions for making this fun art project here: http://www.two-daloo.com/fall-leaves-resist-art-suncatcher/.

How will you be celebrating the season? Let us know by commenting below!

Developing a Growth Mindset in Kids

8 Sep


The new school year is sure to bring challenges and obstacles for your children. Developing a growth mindset early on is important to not only success in the classroom, but in any challenge they face for years to come. Here are five ways you can encourage your children to be prepared with an open mind:

1. Revel in the struggle.

Many times, when our children struggle, our first instinct is to have them switch to something easier or even complete the task for them. However, when struggle is seen as part of the growing process, children can be taught to view it as learning. Acknowledge your child is struggling by using statements like, “I know you’re struggling, but you’re learning how to do it.” It will make the accomplishment so much sweeter. Incorporate music learning with Tough Stuff: Songs of Motivation CD. 


2. Try new things.

Without trying new things, children’s horizons are limited as they are given fewer opportunities to grow. Encourage your children to step outside of their comfort zone, whether it’s attempting a feat on the playground they think they can’t do, trying new food at the dinner table, or meeting new people. The willingness to try new things will establish the early stages of a growth mindset. To challenge children at home, start browsing our puzzling and brainteaser section: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/puzzles.


3. Explore the concept of continual learning.

Intelligence isn’t fixed. This is an important concept for children to understand. Even mommies and daddies continue to learn every day! Be sure you’re open about continual learning and how it changes the brain and improves intelligence even as an adult. For a range of topics you can teach your children about every day, don’t miss the Learn Every Day series! 


4. Teach the importance of failure.

Even failures can be seen as a positive when seen through the lens of growth. When your child fails, encourage them to ask questions like, “What mistakes did I make?”, “How can I do better next time?”, and most importantly, “What did I learn from this?” This will instill resilience in children from an early age and an appreciation that success comes with hard work and perseverance. To learn more about how you can promote resilience in young children, check out Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure.

5.  Encourage positive self-talk when it comes to problem solving. 

Finally, encouraging your child to keep a positive perspective when faced with challenges is so important. Here are a couple phrases you can use to encourage and model positive self-talk:


Related Links:

Learning About Careers for Labor Day!

1 Sep


Labor Day weekend is quickly approaching! Do you have plans for your family? The three-day weekend can be a great time to teach your children about different careers in the community as well as get them thinking about potential career paths for themselves! Here is a fun project you can do together to celebrate the holiday with young children:

The Jobs People Do Project


  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Graphics representing different jobs
  • Glue
  • Clothing proper representing different jobs
  • Various proper representing different jobs
  • Magazines
  • Construction paper

What To Do:

  1. Take a survey; ask parents in the community what they do for a living as well as discussing what you do for a living. Make a list of their jobs.
  2. Ask your children what they think each position does or includes and record their responses.
  3. Compare what your children say with what the jobs actually include. Talk a little about each type of job. One great way to do this is by using the Career Book Set. Make sure you don’t make children feel as if they answered incorrectly. Gentle correction is always best.
  4. Continue until you have talked about every job and then make a list of all of the jobs on a piece of poster board.
  5. Make a word/picture graph depicting community jobs. At the top of the graph print: “The Jobs People Do.” Under the heading make two columns, one for Moms and one for Dads. Print each parent’s job in the proper column. Add a small graphic that represents that job next to the printed words.
  6. Break out the dramatic play! Encourage kids to use props to pretend they are working at the different jobs discussed. If you’re in need of props, check out our career selection below:



  1. Cut out magazine pictures of people working to make a Jobs Collage as a family project.
  2. Work to create a unique and colorful jobs mural on poster board. Title it: “The Jobs People Do” and display it in your home for all to see. You can adapt this mural to do “Jobs I Want To Do” and have children include careers they are interested in.
  3. Wind up your celebration of the jobs people do by visiting a career place of your child’s choice. Libraries, fire stations, and sheriff’s offices are all usually open for the holiday, but it depends on individual hours. So, be sure to check beforehand!

Activity adapted from The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities For Children 3 to 6.

For even more resources to get your children talking about what careers they are interested in, check out these career toys:

Outdoor Games the Whole Family Can Play!

30 Jun


Summer is the perfect season to get outside with the kids for fun family engagement! Active play is an important part of early childhood and becomes more engaging when parents are involved. We have a few games you can play with your kids that will leave you both learning and laughing together!

1. Four Square Madness

Have a driveway or empty pavement outside? Turn a hot, boring day into active play that will build fine motor skills in children by playing Four Square! Break out the chalk and playground balls for hours of fun as you teach children important lessons like boundaries, control, and patience while others players finish the game once a child is “out.” Find official Four Square rules here: http://www.squarefour.org/rules. Don’t have chalk? No worries! Find yours here; don’t forget to check out our selection playground balls below:

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2. Getting the Garden in Shape! 

Gardening is a great way to spend time together with your children as you teach them the importance of nutrition and sustainability. It can be hard to know how little ones can help when it comes to heavy gardening tools; that’s why we have just the thing! Find child-sized gardening tools below along with a tote they can carry to hold any yard tools you may need:

62571  84497a

3. Learning with Bean Bags!

Bean bags are always a fantastic way to get the whole family involved, however, with the addition of letters or numbers, they can also be used to bring classroom lessons outside. From spelling to counting, make up your own learning games with these easy-to-pack learning bean bags:


4. Building Sand Castles with Molds!

Whether you’re taking a vacation to the beach or simply have a sand box in the backyard, sand encourages sensory play and is a great way to encourage building in children. See how big of a city your child can build or encourage creativity with the creation of canals or nature decorations like leafs for flags. The possibilities are endless when it comes to a child’s creativity!


What are your child’s favorite ways to learn outside? Let us know by commenting below! Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest board: Outdoor Learning with Kids! 

Summer Fun with Santurian Balls!

9 Jun


Celebrate summer by taking playtime outside! Children can stay entertained for hours when balls are adapted into play. Different types of balls are used by children around the world to supplement imagination and encourage healthy habits as they participate in physical fitness. We have two game suggestions from Let’s Take It Outside that we think your children will love:

Step 1: Pick out your Santurian ball!



Step 2: Get outside and play!

1. Bottle Bowling

Learning Objectives: To recognize letters and practice large motor skills by rolling a ball toward a target.


  • Playground ball
  • Craft paper, cut into six 5” x 15” strips
  • Glue or tape
  • Markers
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Six 2-liter soda bottles with caps
  • Water


  • Write a different letter onto each paper strip. Use letters the children are learning, and write the letters large enough to be seen easily from a distance.
  • Wrap each paper around the middle of a bottle and attach it with glue or tape.
  • Fill each bottle with about 3 inches of water. Cap tightly.
  • Draw a bowling lane with chalk on the pavement, approximately 3 feet wide and 8 feet long.
  • Set up the bottles (pins) at one end. Arrange the pins in a triangle shape with one bottle in front, two bottles behind it, and three bottles in the back row.

What to Do

  1. Show the children how to roll the ball toward the target with one hand to the side or with both hands between their legs.
  2. When a child knocks over one of the bottles, ask him or her to name the letter written on it.
  3. Allow each child to keep rolling the ball until he or she knocks over one or more pins before moving on to the next player.
  4. Reset the pins and proceed until all children have a sufficient number of turns.

Pro Tip: Ball retrieval will be easier if you are able to set up your alley with a wall or other barrier directly behind the pins.

2. Hoop Play

Learning Objectives: To enhance balance, coordination, large motor skills, imaginative play, and listening skills.


  • Playground balls
  • Construction cones
  • Rope
  • Several large plastic hoops
  • String or Velcro strips


  • Set up a variety of stations for the children to practice their motor skills

What to Do:

  1. Hang a hoop on a tree branch or from a piece of playground equipment. Have the children toss a ball through the hoop to each other. This will help them work on catching and ball control.
  2. Tie several hoops together with string or Velcro strips and place them flat on the ground. Let the children practice hopping in the hoops like in hopscotch, trying to get the ball from one end of the course to the other. Pass off the ball once they make it through.
  3. Encourage the children to roll hoops up and down a hill or incline or stand a distance from a fence and roll the hoops into the fence. How far can they roll the hoop before it falls over? Can children toss the balls through the hoop while it’s rolling?
  4. Using construction cones, let the children toss the hoops like horseshoes.
  5. Encourage children to make up their own additional games.

Pro Tip: Hanging the hoops at different levels is also a great way to work on aim and ball control in soccer. Just make sure you have something or someone set up behind for ball retrieval!

What are your favorite ball games to play outside? Share with us by commenting below.

Making the Most of Bath Time

2 Jun


Do your kiddos like taking baths? For many parents, it can be a struggle trying to convince children baths are a good thing. Whether it’s a fear of water or simply not wanting to stay still long enough, children can make taking baths difficult and leave parents soaked by the end of bath time. We have a few toy suggestions that will not only leave children seeing the tub as a new play space, but also teach a few educational lessons along the way!

1. SoapSox Bath Scrub Terry Cloth Bath Sponges – Harper The Hippo & Ava The Dolphin 143909

These soft washcloths just happen to be absolutely adorable and in the shape of loveable sea creatures! Pour soap into the SoapSox pocket and add water to work up a lather. Place your fingers in the side pockets and scrub as your baby giggles in delight at their newfound bath time friend!

2. 5 Large Dino Bath Buddies 


Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? These five colored dinos are soft and squeezable for small hands. Encourage dramatic play and practice color recognition as you wash your baby!

3. Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard 


What can make bath time more entertaining than turning the faucet into a funny fish? Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard is a great way to keep young children safe from hitting their head during bath time and can be rotated so that water sprays out, providing tons of fun and laughter!

4. Number Ducks 


Nothing is more fun than sharing the tub with a family of counting ducks! Number Ducks are great for number recognition and simple counting as children begin to learn their numbers.

5. Make a Splash™ Vinyl Book Set (Set of 4) 


There’s nothing like story time in the bathtub! Stories are a great way to get children to look forward to your time spent together. These adorable waterproof and baby-safe books are a great way to keep babies entertained.

6. Bubble® Twin Pack


Add more fun in the tub by pouring in scented bubbles! Toddlers can create shapes or make funny hair with the floating foam while enjoying bath time.

7. Water Twinklers 

83681Babies will love watching these three twinklers float in the tub! The viewing dome adds extra visual stimulation by allowing children to see the objects moving inside.

8. Splish, Splash Water Play 


Try to catch colorful insects as they glide across the water or scoop and pour water from fun creatures! The Splish, Splash Water Play Set offers endless bath time fun as toddlers squirt from textured Scrubbles! The different textured tops provide added sensory play.

9.Tug Boats Set (Set of 6) 


These brightly colored boats are fun for racing, easy to chew on, and teach little ones to stack as they nest the little tug boats inside each other! The Tug Boats Set is also a great way to introduce sequencing.

10. Eco-Friendly Stacker Cups 


With six graduated, numbered cups, young children can sort and stack as they learn basic counting and math concepts. Pour from cups one and two and watch as they fill the volume of cup three! A great way to keep kids learning while bathing.

Do you have strategies for keeping young children calm during bath time? Comment below or tell us on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanToys


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